Seeley Lake Elementary Superintendent Bill Hyde greeting students at school.
Story & photos by Donna Love
For the Pathfinder
December 7, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
Hyde finds the people of Seeley Lake "open, warm, friendly and genuine." What he hopes to bring to the community, as Superintendent of the Grade School, is a "balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of the children." By spiritual he explained, "In the way of learning to give, for instance, giving to the food bank and through other giving activities." He hopes to achieve his goal by uniting the staff, board and community towards meeting those basic necessities in Seeley Lake's children.
Add Respect and Responsibility to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
Mr. William (Bill) Hyde, the new Seeley Lake Elementary School Superintendent feels they are just as important. He has come to this conclusion from working in education for thirty-seven years.
Hyde is a fifty-nine year old educator from Maryland. He received his Bachelor's Degree in 1963 from Forstburg State University, a state teacher's school that provided a free education in exchange for becoming a teacher. His degree was in Education/History. Hyde then taught 8th and 9th grade from 1963 to 1966 in the Prince George County Public School System and coached High School Varsity Football.
After his initial years of teaching he held several positions for the Maryland State Department of Education, including Rehabilitation Counselor, Supervisor, Staff Specialist for Fiscal Operations, and Director of Administrative Services from 1966 through 1987. He received his Master's Degree in 1969. He completed the course work for his doctoral program in Education Administration at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
From 1987 to 1998 he was the Assistant Superintendent of the Carroll County Public School System. In 1998 he became the head Superintendent of Schools for the County with 27,000 students in 30 elementary, middle and junior high schools and five high schools.
Hyde moved to Seeley Lake to fill the grade school superintendent position that was previously occupied by John Hebnes. His goal in coming to Montana was to become more directly involved with children and put his educational philosophies into practice. In looking for a place, he saw that Seeley Lake Elementary was getting some good results. It listed high in State testing, but he was more impressed with the way the staff worked with the kids. "I see some really good things happening here," he stated.
"It is not sufficient to have children perform at just an acceptable level," Hyde said. He believes that children can be good learners if they have respect for themselves and others, and if they assume the responsibility for their own learning. A teacher is a coach. Seeley Lake was already putting some of those ideas into practice.
Along with his administrative duties of running the school Hyde will also handle some student discipline. "Tom [Tom Larson, the grade school's part-time principle] and I share similar thoughts on discipline," Hyde said. Respect and responsibility factor big in the equation here, too. He believes respect for themselves and others, and responsibility for their behavior is the bases for how students should behave. He feels children can be taught responsibility and respect through consequences in a positive manner using a "If you do this, this will happen. If you don't do this, this will happen" approach.
Hyde expressed that one of the biggest challenges a school faces is that whatever the kids see happening at home they bring to school. If parents aren't respectful and don't take responsibility for their actions the children are the same. He tells parents "Don't expect your kids to do anything different [then what they see at home] here."
He feels that one way to help the students is to show that he is interested in them. He believes they have an incredible amount of potential. He flat out "expects nothing but the best," and wants to be with the students as much as possible to be a significant person in their world, saying, "That's why I greet them at the door."
In addition, Hyde feels that if even twenty-five percent of the children aren't working up to their potential a school has to find a way to meet their needs. It is not satisfactory for any to "fall through the cracks" siting that often these kids drop out of school when older. "When children are young they are fertile ground that can be worked with," he said, and believes, "All kids can learn."
So you might ask, how does someone from a big school system in Maryland come to work in Montana?
Answer, the Internet.
Mr. Hyde retired from his previous position and was looking for a change. He looked at vacancies and openings available for school related jobs around the U.S. with only one stipulation in mind the place had to have, or be close to snow because he loves snow. When he saw the job advertisement for Seeley Lake, it seemed a perfect fit. He loves the outdoors and is an avid cross-country skier. In the summer he loves to mountain bike and is looking forward to getting in some saddle time in Montana. He also loves to canoe. He played football in college and at one time was a long distance marathon runner.
Hyde didn't move here totally sight-unseen. About five years ago he traveled around the State and also took a one week horseback trip through the Bob Marshall Wilderness with local outfitters. He loved the people and the country so he came back again a couple winters ago to cross-country ski in the Bob Marshall Wilderness near Glacier.
Leaving his family behind was one of the most difficult things about moving here. His three grown children (two daughters and a son) and five grandchildren live on the family-farm where they are "carving out a little bit of it for themselves." His family will come for a visit over the holidays.